No, I’m not talking about Ash Williams’ BOOM-STICK. I’m talking about something else.
The Deadites are pretty creepy in the Evil Dead movies. Once summoned, they can possess people (usually the dead) to become terrifying and hard-to-kill creatures who enjoy not only torturing the living, but creating even more Deadites.
But after they’ve been summoned.
The Deadites don’t seem to be free to roam the world doing that voodoo that they do so well, unimpeded. It’s implied in the first few movies that the forces of evil are always out there, but invisible and ethereal.
Typically, people can move freely through the dark places in the world and not be worried about being attacked by Deadites.
In the first Evil Dead movie (and reinforced in the second movie) it was Professor Knowby’s reading the Necronomicon out loud that brought the Deadite forces to his cabin in the woods, and the playing of those recordings by Ash and his friends that got their attention again.
Had that not happened, the evil forces might have continued to float amorphously through the Michigan wilderness, always present and hungry, but unable to act.
This is also true in Ash vs Evil Dead, the show that continues the adventures of my favorite
S-Mart Value Stop stock boy. Ash had apparently been untroubled by evil for decades until he read from his copy of the Book of the Dead while high, and like a demonic Justin Timberlake, brought the sexy evil back.
If that’s the case, that the evil needs to be summoned… then what caused the Deadite attacks that were plaguing Lord Arthur and Duke Henry’s people in the medieval locale in the Army of Darkness movie?
When Ash arrives in the past, accidentally banished by a spell intended to do away with the primal evil made flesh at the end of Evil Dead II, the Deadites had already been active. Lord Arthur even had a pit filled with the monsters.
Ash can’t be held responsible for this particular batch of Deadites.
But maybe this guy should be held responsible…
Spinach-Chin (he’s credited as “Wiseman” but I prefer Ash’s descriptive nickname for him) is my nominee for “oops, maybe I’ve dabbled too deeply in affairs not entirely meant for mortal man to muck about.”
He seems to know a lot about the Necronomicon. He knows where it is, the incantation required to safely obtain the book without disturbing the slumbering Deadite forces, the importance of the book, and what a terrible thing it would be for it to fall into Deadite hands.
He even seems to recognize that Ash is the Deadite-fighting stranger from the skies, illustrated in the book. But he doesn’t mention this to Arthur.
I wonder why?
Wiseman: That dude totally looks like the guy in the forbidden book of the dead.
Arthur: How now? Have you been investigating matters you ought not have? Are you the reason the evil dead have been ravaging the countryside?
Wiseman: What? Oh no no no… forget I said anything. THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR…
Hey, I have no actual proof that the grizzled Merlin-esque figure is the root cause for the conflict. I just like to think he’s behind it, and it certainly explains him not only helping Ash, but setting him up to do the dirty work of retrieving the book.
I’m also not so sure who else to blame for what’s going on, other than my boy Spinach-Chin.
I’ve talked previously about my theory that the Deadites prefer to possess the dead (usually killed by them) or those who were vulnerable to possession due to some kind of exposure to the Necronomicon, or involved in reading or hearing the demon-summoning passages.
We see a possession happen in Lord Arthur’s hall, where an old woman working a cauldron (we’ll assume she was making stew, and not brewing some evil brew) manifests as a Deadite, before Ash dispatches her.
In my personal head-canon for the movie, maybe the Wiseman had cozied up to the old woman some weeks previously, after smoking some hobbit-grade pipeweed.
Wiseman: Oh, I see you have a nice wode tattoo on your wrist. Is that a Welsh poem?
Crone: I went through a poetry phase when I was young. I still love poems, but I hate the Welsh thanks to me ex-husband Lewellyn.
Wiseman: Oh, I know something very much like poetry, and it’s not Welsh. *Starts mumbling some rhyming Khandarian*
Crone: You sexy devil!
Thus explaining why she got possessed out of everyone in the hall! She’d already been primed for it.
Yes, I’m totally mashing up the plot from the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead and casting Spinach-Chin in the Ash role. It just makes sense! (To me.)
Feel free to argue, agree, or propose other crackpot theories about Army of Darkness. I love this type of wild speculative discussion.
The Evil Walking Dead
Sure, the roamers, geeks, walkers, biters (they call them EVERYTHING but ‘zombies’) on The Walking Dead aren’t exactly like the Deadite-possessed dead in the Evil Dead universe. But hear me out.
Viewers assume that the zombie-outbreak shown on The Walking Dead is some kind of classic viral outbreak, where a zombie bites or scratches a human and infects them. Then they die and turn. This was somewhat supported when Rick Grimes and his crew visited the CDC in Atlanta.
A buddy of mine hated this, because he felt that trying to explain a zombie outbreak scientifically was dumb, because zombies don’t work scientifically. My friend is a clown. It doesn’t matter what the CDC doctor says. He’s a disease-studying doctor, so he’s going to try to come up with a scientific reasoning for the outbreak, even if it’s wrong. People try to figure things out. That’s what people do.
But we can also assume that the outbreak can’t be explained scientifically. Possession by Deadites in the Evil Dead universe isn’t something that can be isolated in a lab, probably, but people can still make observations and work with what rules they can derive. Like…
- Don’t read the demon summoning passages from the Necronomicon.
- Don’t trust people killed by Deadites.
Etc. We don’t need to know magic. We’re allowed to theorize.
In regards to The Walking Dead, I’m happy to imagine that Professor Knowby’s reel-to-reel tapes were picked up during a crime scene investigation at the cabin. (There were enough missing people known to be in that area to get attention, and a dead Annie Knowby to warrant the police to canvas the scene.)
Imagine if the tapes fell into the hands of an already soulless music producer, who (in search of new music) sampled some of the Professor’s Khandarian beats into demo tracks and made them available for free on the Internet.
Suddenly, the problem is global. And the Deadite presense is spread so far and wide, the possessed humans just act on instinct.
Look, Deadite possession makes reasonable sense if we want to throw science out the window.
And there are other similarities between the two shows.
Like I said, we don’t really need to know what’s causing the zombie outbreak in The Walking Dead, or ye olde Deadite outbreak in Army of Darkness.
In those respective universes, something caused the problems. And animated corpse ass-kicking, although not necessarily the solution, is a fine way to pass the time while the problem gets noodled through.
If you enjoyed this post on Army of Darkness, I have more like it! Feel free to start with my introductory post celebrating Ash vs Evil Dead.
Images from Army of Darkness and AMC’s The Walking Dead.
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved